Lot 1066
  • 1066

JANE LEE | Beyond Canvas

380,000 - 550,000 HKD
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  • Jane Lee
  • Beyond Canvas
  • Signed on the reverse 
  • Mixed media on canvas, wood stretcher and fiberglass
  • 122 by 105 by 18 cm; 48 by 41 1/2  by 7 in.
  • Executed in 2016


Hong Kong, Hong Kong Arts Centre, Jane Lee: Red States,  May 10 - June 10 1018


This work is in good overall condition as viewed. There is some wrapping material stuck on the pigment on the edges of the upper right. All other inconsistencies are due to the artist's working method.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

An unapologetic obscuration of pre-existing notions rooted in Western painting practice, Jane Lee’s Beyond Canvas is a visually compelling and seductively tactile work.  Hovering tenuously between the realms of painting and sculpture, this enthralling piece is a true embodiment of the Singaporean artist’s innovative pictorial praxis. Best known for her experimental techniques and inventive use of materials, Lee’s unorthodox approach works to both challenge and re-examine the assumptions and customary functions or meanings assigned to the materials and structures that traditionally uphold the establishment of the painting.[1] By subversively positioning medium and matter as the main subject of her work, Lee looks to the limitless potential of materiality as a vehicle for artistic expression. Foreshadowing her recent directions of employing the canvas itself as sculptural basis, Beyond Canvas reveals the artist at the height of her technical prowess – a true master of medium.  Selected as a key example of Jane Lee’s ceaseless explorations, Beyond Canvas was shown “Red States” an exhibition in Hong Kong that focused on red colour works completed over the course of her career. The present piece marks a point when Lee engaged with the act of squeezing paint out of a tube - dense strands of pigment form together and eventually create folding sculptures that drape and gather like heavy cloth. Lee’s practice deviates from any representational depictions and narrative strategies. Instead, she presents her works as powerful material explorations. In the present lot she focuses her attention on the physical characteristics and inherent properties of the paint itself. Lee’s profound interest in the textural qualities of her chosen mediums are employed as both material and object in her work: the subject of the art is the art itself.

Striking in its compositional and monochromatic splendour, the present lot sees Jane Lee sensitively marry content to form and material. Using the ever-familiar components of a painting: wood, canvas, and paint, the artist ascribes new roles and values to these materials. As suggested by the title, Beyond Canvas is a piece that directly alludes to the processes and methodologies Lee engages with, which quite visibly stretch far beyond the boundaries of the canvas. The title calls the viewer to look beyond what they are merely visually confronted with, and to explore the work much as one would an artefact. Escaped from its frame and stripped of support, Jane Lee presents her viewers with a rich and lusciously bold red canvas, that is ever so carefully draped across the lower half of a stretcher. Crafted with great depth and dimensionality, the work extends far beyond the flat format of a wall-hung canvas. The artist creates a sense of movement within the work as the “canvas” bursts into the space of the viewer. Reminiscent of medieval tapestries and ancient textiles, the soft and delicate folds that Lee splendidly achieves from what is in fact a stiff and thick painted canvas, is truly indicative of Jane Lee’s technical talents and artistic virtuosity.

Through the process of subtraction and deduction from the picture plane, the viewer is confronted with a stark contrast between the material abundance of the layered canvas and the vacant space created by the exposed framework of the stretcher. Here, Jane Lee activates the space that would conventionally be covered by the canvas, and creates a window which one can see straight through to its architectural surroundings. Not only does she ask us to look at the red, layered canvas, but the stark absence of presence in the upper portion. By employing this technique, she deliberately removes any material hierarchies in her work, reinforcing the notion that the physical medium is equally important as the empty spaces. This desolate pocket works to at once reveal and interact with the environment in which the painting is situated. Not only does Jane Lee redefine processes that constitute the making of a painting, but she also evokes a new aesthetic experience for the spectator through the physical components of her sculptural works. While the famed Lucio Fontana, slashed the center of his canvases to allow three-dimensional space to intrude into an otherwise two-dimensional surface, Jane Lee reveals the infinite space beyond a canvas while also heightening the physical three-dimensionality of the space surrounding the canvas. Lee’s intellectual engagement with materiality as seen in Beyond Canvas, produces new perspectives for the spectator, effectively opening a new way of seeing.

Praised for her indelible and unrivalled artistic approach towards the medium of painting, Jane Lee is considered as one of Asia’s most exciting contemporary artists. Her curiosity in discovering new methods of treating prosaic materials and interest in the re-examination of institutionalised painting practices has enabled her to extend the our imagination about the multitude of possibilities within her practice. A painting playing the game of sculpture, Beyond Canvas is a raw and dramatic work that entwines Western visual traditions and Eastern stylistic principles with Jane Lee’s personal artistic philosophies. Presented with regal grandeur and great dimensionality, Beyond Canvas is an outstanding example of her ground-breaking process and artistic prowess.

[1] Michelle Ho, “Beyond and Beneath Paint: The Stories of Canvas in the Works of Jane Lee”, Jane Lee, Red States, Hong Kong Arts Centr, p. 5